The Prabhas, Pooja Hegde starrer has hardly anything going for it beyond its music and visuals
Vikramaditya is a globally renowned palmist, whose family shifts from Varanasi to Rome during his childhood years. He believes love isn't in his destiny and prefers relationships that are limited to flirting. His idea of love changes when he meets a young girl Prerana on a train. While Prerana resists Vikramaditya's advances initially, the two end up falling for one another. Though Vikramaditya remains clear about commitment issues, Prerana is a believer in timeless romance. However, the relationship between Vikramaditya and Prerana is driven by factors beyond their control. In this tussle between destiny and love, what's in store for the couple?
With two leading stars in Indian cinema, a period romance set in Italy, breathtaking cinematography and mellifluous music, Radhe Shyam came with an ambitious promise of delivering visual poetry and sweeping you off your feet. And turns out that all of it is only sufficient to make you stare at the exit hall right from the beginning. Radhe Shyam is a disastrous script translated onto the screen without any conviction or an iota of honesty. The biggest of names in the industry, both cast and crew, can't do anything to salvage the poor writing. Not a single moment or performance in the film touches your soul and creates a profound impact.
You can make actors in a film wear the best clothing, design the most beautiful sets, shoot in exotic foreign locales, but none of it can substitute the absence of a good, worthy story. The story of a palmist in love trying to overpower his destiny may be an interesting idea though the director does very little to lend authenticity to Vikramaditya's world. What attracts him to palmistry? Why does his family shift to Italy? What is his daily life like? All the palmist does is wear shiny blazers, carry a suitcase, interact with politicians, businessmen, the creme de la creme of the society and suddenly falls in love.
The filmmaker never gets the viewer to invest in his characters of this fantasy world. It's as if one actor after the other is interested to be a part of a fancy dress competition and not acting. Forget the characters, how can the romance in a love story be so badly written? The very reason why Vikramaditya and Prerana meet the second time at a hospital is bizarre. After being hit by a bus, the guy walks all the way to a hospital, utters some fancy lines, desperately trying to woo the girl and before you could sense what's going on, you're told they're in love. The roadblocks in the way of their relationship are equally strange and old-school - destiny and a terminal disease (no prizes for guessing what it is)
The hospital backdrop for Prerana's character is unintentionally hilarious. A patient, despite not having any ailments, gets admitted to the hospital and wants to stay there forever. Vikramaditya does a strange death practice with yoga for two minutes every day. A doctor at the top of his voice yells at a patient for calling astrology more accurate than science. It's also very apparent that the hospital is a set, for it's designed more like a mansion.
While the first hour at least sets up the stage for the romance to take off, the film is derailed by a pathetic screenplay later. The plot just refuses to progress. The filmmaker is clueless is about elevating the tension within the story and makes a mess of a potent idea. Just because they want to prove an astrological prediction wrong, the protagonists end up doing strange things beyond comprehension. The sequence where Vikramaditya braves past a sinking ship to meet Prerana could've been a work of art if there was some emotion behind it.
Several portions in the film don't add up - the threads about a businessman client (to Vikramaditya) who aspires to be a politician and the budding sportswoman he meets in a train, whose career fails to take off owing to a tragedy. It's understood that the scenes were in place to establish Vikramaditya's credibility as a palmist but they don't further the story at all. Radhe Shyam feels like a series of scenes placed together in a film, where neither the parts nor the whole has any meaning.
Radha Krishna Kumar doesn't do anything to integrate the spirit of Italy into the story. Nothing about the film would've changed even if it was set in Australia or France. Beyond the props, you barely realise that you're watching a film set in the 70s. The surreal locations may have helped the cinematographer though the jarring CGI/VFX work is quite distracting in many situations.
The performances are so uninspiring too, Prabhas utters his lines as if he's doing a favour to audiences and more than anything, he looks tired and is in real need of a peaceful night's sleep. Pooja Hegde is saddled with a part without any substance though the actress tries hard to give it some personality and meaning. Bhagyashree, as a dancer mother to Vikramaditya, has nothing to do in the film beyond waking her son from bed, making coffee, teaching dance to a few students and mysteriously disappearing later.
None of the supporting actors have proper characters, be it Sachin Khedekar, Priyadarshi, Riddhi Kumar, Murli Sharma or even Krishnam Raju. Justin Prabhakaran's songs deserved a better film and despite S Thaman's earnest efforts with the background score, there's no life in the proceedings.
Simply put, Radhe Shyam is style minus any substance and it makes Prabhas' earlier dud Saaho seem infinitely better. That's not a standard you'd want to set for a film. All that glitters is not gold. Neither the story, writing nor the performances. This is a long ride to hell.